Today is Day Three of my water fast (the 2nd day was the hardest) and I am feeling buoyed up, centered and excited about following Zen cuisine when my 4-day water fast is completed on Monday. I already have a nice library of cookery writing along these lines: “Wake Up and Cook” where John Cage writes about going out to gather spring water from the wilds of New York State to make his staple of pressure-cooked brown rice with a spoonful of soy sauce. “Food for Solitude” is another old favorite of mine with essays written by loners and ascetics who eat simply and well enough, and who know why they like living that way.
In my library of macrobiotic cooking (I took a workshop out at the Kushi Institute in western Massachusetts more than a decade ago when I was recuperating from a viral illness) I rediscovered the practice of cooking brown rice in a pressure cooker using a heat diffuser pad at the end of the process. It took me less than five minutes to relocate my German-made pressure cooker in the caverns of my pantry and the heat diffuser, still hanging by its leather thong on the pantry wall. It is now scrubbed and ready to go when I begin cooking again later this week.
The feature article in the NYTimes Magazine today about Jeong Kwan, the Zen Buddhist nun from South Korea who cooks temple food for herself and two other nuns, occasional monks and visitors inspired me a few days ago. Perhaps this latest “discovery” of Jeong Kwan might someday lead to a cookery book (certainly there will be a big push to do one since the subject herself, the topography and her slow methods of producing condiments from scratch lend themselves to our cookery times.) But it won’t happen tomorrow or the next day so in the meantime, there are enough ideas in the aforementioned books to satisfy my cooking learning curve for awhile.
Here’s a link to a cookbook in my library called “The Heart of Zen Cuisine.”